Rutherford and Son

Rutherford and Son

National Theatre · 16 MAY - 03 AUG

A piercing look at power and family.

“Roger Allam leads the cast as a Dickensian factory owner who manages his business and his family with an iron will – but his controlling nature provokes his children to rebel against him. It has received glowing praise across the board from critics & users, and whilst it has a slow build up once it gets going it’s a gripping show.”
Lyn Gardner avatar
23 May 2019  ·  Follow on Stagedoor
“A great cast, headed by Justine Mitchell and Roger Allam, star in Polly Findlay’s revival of Githa Sowerby’s 1912 play which is a real marvel. It is not just an extraordinary play for a woman to have written more than a century ago. It is just extraordinary full stop. This is the first revival at the NT since Katie Mitchell’s revelatory production in the mid-1990s and it should be a cracker. Patriarch John Rutherford, owner of a glassworks in a Northern Industrial town, tries to dominate his children. But they increasingly turn against him and the attitudes that keep them in thrall and in mourning for lives warped by capitalism and patriarchy.”


Roger Allam (Les Misérables, The Thick of It) returns to the National for the first time in a decade to play Rutherford in this new production directed by Polly Findlay (Beginning).

In a Northern industrial town, John Rutherford rules both factory and family with an iron will. But even as the furnaces burn relentlessly at the Glassworks, at home his children begin to turn against him.

Githa Sowerby’s astonishing play was inspired by her own experience of growing up in a family-run factory in Gateshead. Writing in 1912, when female voices were seldom heard on British stages, she now claims her place alongside Ibsen and Bernard Shaw with this searing depiction of class, gender and generational warfare.

Critic reviews

Heavy price to be paid for speaking truth to papa

The Times

Amid this triumph of cruelty, Sowerby introduces a strong feminist strand

The Arts Desk

Transfixing cast in absorbing family saga

Evening Standard

Strongly performed, handsomely designed but occasionally melodramatic revival of Githa Sowerby's remarkable play

The Stage

Findlay's production provides deeply etched portraits of each character

London Theatre

It's a long, wordy piece, with the heavy three-act structure of its time, but Findlay and the cast make it compelling


Roger Allam is magnificent in Edwardian classic

The Guardian

Atmospheric and powerful revival of Githa Sowerby’s 1912 classic

Time Out

Never a dull moment, but many a dour one in this splendid revival

The Telegraph

Though never actively bad, the show is so uninspiring – and overlong – that it doesn’t paint the theatre in a particularly flattering light

The Upcoming

This is one of those productions where the writing, acting, design and direction is as good as you’d expect from a National Theatre

London Box Office

Date & time

Show ended
Thu 16 May - Sat 3 Aug, 2.15pm & 7.30pm


National Theatre
South Bank SE1 9PX London, UK · Get Directions
out of 5 stars
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